In Naples, three wise men get COVID health pass to visit Jesus manger

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - The Three Wise Men have something extra to carry along with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh when they travel to visit Baby Jesus this year: their COVID-19 health pass.

Craftsmen along San Gregorio Armeno street in the historical centre of Naples, Italy, are famous for using art to adapt their nativity scenes to the times they are living in.

"Last year was the year of the masks, so the figurines of Mary, Joseph and the Three Wise Men were wearing masks ... This year it seemed like the right thing to keep following this direction," said craftsman Marco Ferrigno.

The Green Pass, which shows someone has received at least one vaccine dose, tested negative or recently recovered from the virus, is a requirement in Italy for travel on much inter-city transport and to access a range of cultural and leisure venues.

"Because the Three Wise Men have to take a long journey to the crib, I gave them all their own Green Pass so that they have the proper documents for travelling," said Ferrigno.

The Neapolitan nativity scenes developed into an art form in the Baroque period. Many Italian families have a scene on display in their homes at Christmas time.

Reaction among tourists to the Wise Men being given passes - complete with QR code - in order to be able to follow the star without problems, was mostly positive.

"We all have the Green Pass. Why shouldn’t the Three Wise Men? They are coming from so far away and crossing so many countries ... It’s a good message for the people. We should all have the Green Pass," said tourist Massimiliano Giangrossi.